Since the inception of Pakistan, women have been a part of the military service. Whether it has been a part in the healthcare or logistics sector or more recently in combat units and as fighter pilots, women have played a role.
In 2008 the Punjab Rangers announced their intentions to recruit women. A Rangers official, who did not want to be identified, remarked this move was made by then president, Pervez Musharraf, as part of his “enlightened moderation” agenda. However, since the first batch of female Rangers were inducted; there have been no more recruiting calls. Of the 30 or so female Rangers living on base at the Punjab Rangers headquarters, majority of them are still on the Sepoy ranking. In the last five years, only a handful have been promoted to the Sub-inspector position. The duties these women perform vary from protocol for female VIPs, duty at the Wagah and Ganda Singh Border and administrative work. “One wonders why there has been no recruitment since 2008,” remarked the same officer.
He may be right, the role of these female Rangers is seen by many as mostly symbolic, of the original 60 or so recruited a bit more than half have remained. The latest recruitment for Rangers in Pakistan was by the Sindh Rangers looking for nurses, midwives and ayahs.
Although their training is as aggressive as their male counterparts, the Punjab female Rangers don’t seem to have much more to do. All the women interviewed for this video seemed happy and well taken care of – they didn’t have any complaints.
However, is there more that these women can do, other than check post duty? Incidents in the last five years would suggest that out of the 420,000 strong paramilitary forces, there is a need to have women serving in frontline duty. They are especially needed in rescue operations such as the 2008 earthquake or the 2010 and 2011 floods or even in crisis situations like the Lal Masjid operation and other scenarios where women are involved.